Introduction: On Poison and Reason

  • Dušan I. Bjelić


In this chapter I discuss Sigmund Freud’s and Walter Benjamin’s relationships to drugs, Freud with cocaine and Benjamin with hashish, as two examples of how drugs stimulated their reflections on modernity. I argue that Freud and Benjamin were not addicted to chemicals but rather to drug-related ideas with Messianic overtones. The chapter elaborates on the ways in which Freud’s and Benjamin’s main concepts, such as “unconscious,” “phantasmagoria,” “hysteria” or “revolution,” grew out of their intoxicated reflections. Although they preferred different drugs, Freud and Benjamin, both Central European Jews, died in exile by overdose of morphine. Between the two world wars, suicide by morphine was a common means for many Jews. I argue that Freud and Benjamin fell prey to the German “Jewish-chemical complex” and an industry dedicated to the technological demolition of the Jews. Insofar as this complex realized the nation’s death wish against its Jews, the complex belonged to the German collective industrial unconscious.


Traumatic Shock Architectural Space Coca Leave Sexual Theory Colonial Subject 
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Authors and Affiliations

  • Dušan I. Bjelić
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of CriminologyUniversity of Southern MainePortlandUSA

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